VAIL — More than 550 third graders will congregate at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens today at noon to release hundreds of butterflies for the annual Butterfly Launch. The launch is followed by butterfly games in the park and a visit from the Denver Butterfly Pavilion.
“Thank you for doing this awesome program again,” said Jonathan Selbig, from Homestake Peak School.
Each year, the gardens partner with Eagle County public and private elementary schools to provide third-grade students a hands-on learning experience on how nature changes larvae into butterflies. Each participating class receives a free butterfly kit used to incorporate the study of butterflies with various life-sciences topics and to help meet the National Science Education Standards curriculum content for grades K-8. The children, their teachers and other members of the community then join together at the gardens for a celebratory “launch” of the butterflies. The afternoon event includes the Denver Butterfly Pavilion’s educational displays and interactive games, life-cycle Bingo and live entertainment.
The Butterfly Launch empowers educators with instruction and implementation in a fun and engaging way to teach the life cycles of a butterfly and the miracle of metamorphosis easier. Students learn life cycles of animals vary across species and the important role butterflies play in the balance of nature.
The students — from 28 classrooms in both public and private schools in Eagle and Lake counties — were supplied this spring with kits including a viewing net, caterpillars and food. During the course of about a month, they’ve raised the caterpillars, watching as each pupated and turned into a painted lady butterfly ready to take flight.
This year’s event is underwritten by United Way of the Eagle River Valley and the Holy Cross Energy Round-Up Foundation.